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Guest Post – The Phoenix are the A-League’s most important NZ-based club

Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop with Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick before the game

[Written in response to this anonymous post on Australian site ‘The Roar’.]

By Patrick Barnes

After a year of constant criticism from the FFA of everything the Phoenix were doing, I believe 2016-17 will be a bounce back season.

In many ways the Phoenix mirror a more New Zealand community, more so than every other A-League club. Having no Australian history and no real Australian connections has in the past led to much finger pointing.

Many see this as not being acceptable in some way. Yet there is no logical reason that a lack of Australianism make the Phoenix any less an Australian football club.

In many ways because the Phoenix have had to fight for their survival against the league in the first place, and being questioned about why they are allowed to play with real Australian football clubs, they have become more determined.

However in the face of all snobbery, the Phoenix from 2014 onwards have had an academy. That’s just 9 short years after the Mariners had one! The Phoenix have provided more All Whites than any other club. Fact.

The Phoenix have invested more in player development and facilities arguably than the rest of the A-League combined, other than the Victory, Adelaide, Mariners, Sydney FC, WSW and the Roar.

The constant criticism of the current ownership group, especially Gareth Morgan, has boarded on abuse by many in the media. However did anyone report on what he was actually writing on that clipboard that day at training? Funny that, I missed those articles as well.

Rob Morrison made one huge error, a massive mistake. Morrison trusted David Gallop to not be a back-stabbing asshole, and then took his word rather than analysed what he was saying. It almost sent the club broke, as they had to fund the #SaveTheNix campaign.

Morrison tried to reason with Gallop, but no reason could be found. By this time Morrison had realised his mistake. He spent time and managed to re-sign the current CEO who is doing an excellent job.

He said “I have to save this club and to do that we are going to endure fighting against the FFA for a new license”.

He re-appointed people he knew could run a club in David Dome, and a coaching consultant in Noah Hickey.

The Fox crew almost were salivating on positive things to talk about the Phoenix last year. Of course not because anyone on Fox had fought against the FFA before (other than Bozza, bless him).

With the club on the brink of being folded, Morrison – by a fair bit the most astute owner in the league – steadied the ship. He reasoned in a league with failing clubs, the Phoenix were the least of the FFA’s worries.

Throughout all this however he maintained the core Phoenix philosophy of not letting dickheads play for the Phoenix. Morrison saved the Phoenix and secured a 10 year license.

So why does this make the Phoenix the most important NZ-based side in the A-League?

Two general reasons. First the Phoenix are showing how to be Australian without actually having to be Australian, because not being Australian is a good thing that Australians should aspire to. Second we will still produce more All Whites than any other side.

As a final note the Phoenix fans may not be the loudest, nor turn up in the greatest numbers, but we all know that David Gallop is a dick.

We will be competitive again this year, signing Kosta and Gui is a masterstroke – at least I hope so.

[Patrick Barnes is a prominent member of the Wellington Phoenix fan group Yellow Fever. You can follow him on Twitter (and you really should) via the handle @patrick478.]

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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